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Senate IDC wouldn’t have supported Dem plan to replace Skelos

Independent Democratic Conference Leader Sen. Jeff Klein (D-Bronx),

Independent Democratic Conference Leader Sen. Jeff Klein (D-Bronx), left, Senate Republican leader Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (D-Bronx) after a budget meeting in Albany on March 19, 2015. Credit: AP / Mike Groll

ALBANY - As Dean Skelos is pressured to resign as Senate majority leader while fighting corruption charges, the Republican is getting no help from his longtime partners in the Independent Democratic Conference.

In a nasty fight on the Senate floor Wednesday, the Senate’s main Democratic conference in the minority sought to briefly suspend Senate rules to allow a vote to unseat Skelos (R-Rockville Centre).

Noticeably absent from the fight was the five-member Independent Democratic Conference, a breakaway group of Democrats that had shunned past Democratic corruption scandals and which has since often partnered with Republicans. Two years ago, the IDC shared majority control with Republicans and this year continues to work with the GOP.

On Wednesday, IDC leader Jeff Klein (D-Bronx) wouldn’t weigh in on Skelos. Klein said it’s up to the Republicans to choose their leader.

“We do not have the ability to determine the outcome of legislation,” Klein said, noting the Republican conference has the 32 votes needed to control action on the floor. “The Republican conference is the majority conference ... their destiny should be determined by their members.”

But Democrats in the minority conference had hoped forcing a vote would draw some Republicans who have already called for Skelos to lose his powerful leadership post as well as the IDC.

Instead, the IDC said nothing as Republicans blocked the effort. The IDC is also unlikely to support any similar effort to suspend Senate rules next week.

“Those rules clearly state the Independent Democratic Conference is a recognized third conference,” Klein said. “Why would anyone in the IDC want to suspend their existence?”


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